Being one-eighth the size of New York’s Central Park, Vatican City is the smallest country in the world. Its total population struggles to make it to 4 digits. It earned its freedom in 1929 from Italy. Right now it is the official residence of Pope and is administrative center of Roman Catholicism. Its smallest standing army force is entirely consist of of Swiss citizens. Stamp and souvenir sales, museum admission fees and donations are the means Vatican generates its revenue. Big at heart, this tiny country has so much to offer to you, let’s take a look to top tourist attractions in Vatican City.
Let's explore Vatican City points of interest and 15 best things to do in Vatican City:
1. Saint Peter’s Basilica
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Big things in small packages, this happens to be amongst the world’s largest churches. It was built over tomb of Saint Peter. Your entry would be free but there is a particular dress code. It is situated in one of the top religious and tourist spot across the country, saint Peter’s Square. Bernini’s 29-metre-high baldachin that sits over the papal altar is one of the most celebrated art masterpiece you can see here. Michelangelo’s Pieta, and his glorious Sistine Chapel are also of the same category.
2. Saint Peter’s Square
The Catholics claim Saint Peter to be their first pope and the square is named after him. It is the main entrance to Vatican City and every year, around 50,00,000 tourist visit Vatican city entering from here. The plaza is huge enough to have a capacity of 4 lac people at an instant, comfortably. The square has two beautiful fountains, but it's an ancient Egyptian tower that contests with the basilica for being considered as the square's focal point. You can see the Papal Apartments from the plaza, which is where the Pope lives.
3. Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is a part of the Vatican Museums. Full of Michelangelo's paintings, the chapel was built in 14th century. The purpose it serves is as a private chapel for pope and the place of elections of new popes by cardinals. Perugino and Botticelli majorly created the biblical paintings on the wall. Almighty reaching out to touch Adam's finger is best known for the Creation of Adam on the ceiling by Michelangelo.
4. The Vatican Museums
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It ranks as the 5th-most-visited art museum in the world. Pope Julius II was an art lover and ever since his reign, popes have collected art. This resulted in the fact that the Catholic Church actually owns some of the best-known classical monuments and masterworks of world’s Renaissance art. It also became the reason that he sponsored Michelangelo, Bramante and Raphael, as well as of Bernini. These are Vatican City's national museum for art. As the Pope Julius needed a place to keep all of his treasures and hence came up with the thought of the Vatican Museums in the early 16th century. However the Vatican museum complex is massive, there's only a portion of what the Vatican holds is being shown.
5. Saint Peter’s Tomb
The original 4th century church remains underneath the 17th century’s basilica. An elderly and strong man’s bones were found behind a wall inside a box there in 1942. The Vatican has never made it clear that whose bones they are, but Pope Paul VI stated that the identification process was resounding.
6. Vatican Scavi necropolis
The Vatican Scavi Tour is one of the rarest to come by and one of the most exclusive tours in all of Rome. As compared that to the 30,000 that visit the Vatican Museums, only 250 people are allowed through each day. It in the first century, began as a humble cemetery. It was an appropriate place to bury Christians, martyred at the Circus of Nero. Peter is believed to be one of them and so his body ended up here.
7. The Swiss Guard
Since 1506, the Swiss Guard have been guarding the Vatican City. Even in Today’s time they dress in the conventional Swiss Guard uniform only. Guard who are recruited must be Roman Catholic and Swiss nationals, from 19 to 30 years of age, single, high school graduates and at least 1.74 m tall. They must have also completed Swiss military service.
The Pinacoteca contains 16 rooms of priceless art from the middle ages. The pictures are arranged in chronological order so to give an excellent review of the development of Western painting. Here the portraits include da Vinci's unfinished St. Jerome, Caravaggio's Entombment and a Titian Madonna. Even though Napoleon robbed of many of its treasures, it still successfully is preserving all these incredible art pieces.
9. Sacred Grottoes
Visit the Sacred Grottoes or Crypt. The tombs of many popes and other dignitaries are interred here. Beneath the church, the crypt lies which contained the tomb of John Paul II up until May of 2011. At the conclusion of the Crypt, there is a glass wall which gives a view down to the tomb of St Peter which is situated below the Papal Altar.
10. Museo Pio Clementino
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In the Vatican City, museums have the biggest collection of ancient sculpture in the world. Such kind of art is majorly found in Rome and the surrounding areas. These galleries contain such a treasure of magnificent and significant pieces that even someone makes a list of the highlights, it would be a long one.
11. Appartamento Borgia
Pope Alexander VI who had a private residence for himself and his family. He appointed Pinturicchio to garnish its walls and ceilings. In late 14th century, the painter and his team painted a series of scenes depicting Christian subjects with the themes of ancient and Renaissance humanist. These paintings speak for themselves and make it so hard to believe your eyes.
12. Cappella Niccolina
We would not let you miss even the smallest details in this smallest country. So, in the corner, inside the Sala dei Chiaroscuro, there is a small doorway to Nicholas V's Chapel. It is completely lined in frescoes by the Fra Beato Angelico. Life and martyrdom of St. Stephen and St. Lawrence are the subjects of these frescoes.
13. Vatican Library
The Vatican Library is believed to be the richest in the world and the reason behind that is the value of its content. The hall is around 70-meter-long which was built by Domenico Fontana. Some of its most valuable assets include beautiful hand-illuminated Gospels. Biblical codices and early printed books are also in the treasure list. Also Parchment manuscripts, ancient scrolls and papyri adds up to the count. Recently expanded collection of papal coins and medals is worth to come across.
14. Museo Chiaramonti
In the early 19th century, Pope Pius VII founded the Museo Chiaramonti. It is housed in Braccio Nuovo along a lengthy gallery progressing towards the Papal palace. The museum comprises a number of Roman copies of earlier works that were done by some of the most well-known sculptors from Greece, focusing on works of Greek and Roman art. It is now the only record of them that survived.
15. Egyptian Museum
In1839, Pope Gregory XVI re-founded the Egyptian Museum in the Cortile della Pigna. Much of the collection here is from the Villa Adriana in Tivoli, where they had been collected before by the King Hadrian. The collection here isn't large, but its nine rooms display some finest pieces of Egyptian art, starting from the third millennium to the sixth century BC. Highlights include sculptures of gods and pharaohs, basalt and wooden sarcophagi, mummified heads, bronzes and so much more.